March 12, 2007

Sportflics Division: 2. 1966 Braves vs.
15. 1987 Chiefs

Scoring: The two cards go head-to-head in each of the eleven categories, with the victor of each category winning a point. Extra points available where noted.

Teamwork Extra points for symmetry (even if entirely coincidental)
Coach Attire Extra points for eccentricity and/or coordination
Floating Heads Extra points if heads constitute borderline religious experience
Card Design
Photo Quality
Number of Players
Special Notation of Futility
World Champions

1966 Braves (2) vs. 1987 Chiefs (15)

Teamwork: This category is won right off the bat by the underdog Chiefs. Neither team is showing a strong understanding of the word ‘symmetry’, but at least the Chiefs appear to be trying. The Braves are doomed by a front row without enough bench, and a back row too far around to the right. To really lock it up all the Chiefs had to do was have the guy in the blue leisure sports coat swap spots with the guy to his left. Then it would’ve been perfect. 1987 Chiefs: 2 points | 1966 Braves: 1 point

Coach Attire: Though you can’t deny a fat man in a brown trash bag, the Chiefs edge out another early category, this one based on the eccentricity of allowing some front office guys in the photo in shirt sleeves and clip-on ties. I especially like the blue blazer and jeans ensemble the old guy in the front row is sporting. He better watch out—that’s one or two steps away from a Syracuse Tuxedo. 1987 Chiefs: 2 points | 1966 Braves: 1 point

Uniforms: The Braves unis of the mid Sixties were pretty lame and boring. Actually, all unis (with the exception of the Cardinals and Colt .45s) during the mid-Sixties were pretty boring. So it’s no contest, then, and the Chiefs take this one easily. Extra point awarded to the Chiefs for name no longer used. The team is now known as the Skychiefs. 1987 Chiefs: 2 points | 1966 Braves: 0 points

Background: If you haven’t guessed it, I have ties to the Syracuse area (I attended Syracuse University from 1997 to 2001), and if you’ve never been to a game at the Skychief’s park, you are really missing something. First of all, it’s way the hell out by the Carousel Mall (if memory serves me correct). Second, it’s in a marsh. Third, it’s always freezing, no matter the time of year. So while I love me some yellow fever with that 1966 Braves background, the Chiefs pull another stunner. Simply put: how can you vote against a background that features ads for cigarettes, beer and playing the lottery? That sounds like Syracuse to me. 1987 Chiefs: 3 points | 1966 Braves: 2 points

Personnel: 1966 Braves: Aaron (HOF), Mathews (HOF), Niekro (HOF), 24-game winner Tony Cloninger. 1987 Chiefs: I could be blind, but #30 looks a helluva lot like David Wells. 1966 Braves: 3 points | 1987 Chiefs: 1 point

Card Design: Neither card hits a home run in the design department, but at least the Braves card has more points of reference to the rest of the set: the diagonal band in the upper left; the band across the bottom; the lousy photo quality (whoops, wrong category). The Chiefs card has no design to speak of. 1966 Braves: 2 points | 1987 Chiefs: 0 points

Photo Quality: That Braves card might as well not even have a photo, it’s so bad. It looks like they clipped Hank Aaron’s head to do a proper silhouette for the background, but that’s just wrong. The Chiefs card is a clean, serviceable photo. Nothing flashy. 1987 Chiefs: 1 point | 1966 Braves: 0 points

Number of Players: The Chiefs squeeze 29 players/coaches/front office guys into what is really a medium shot. The Braves have more of a panoramic palette, and they get 33 players and coaches and one child (who is obviously not a batboy). 1966 Braves: 1 point | 1987 Chiefs: 1 point

Special Notation of Futility: Fifth place is nothing to be happy about. That’s pretty goddamn mediocre, even if they did win 86 games. No wonder they have a child in the shot. Lucky for the Chiefs, they didn’t have to put their record on the front of the card (68 – 72). My God, it’s almost another push. 1966 Braves: 2 points | 1987 Chiefs: 0 points

Total Score: 1966 Braves: 12 points
1987 Chiefs: 12 points

Holy geez, it’s a tie! Looks like it’s time to go to the Intangibles category. Each card has one thing that adds to its greatness. The Braves have won the coin toss, so they’ll go first.

There’s something fantastic about the bat boy having a place on the team card. But sometimes you want more than that. Sometimes, bat boys aren’t enough, you know? Bat boys as a genre of baseball type get tired—they get stale. What’s really hip is getting little kids in the shot, and not just any little kids, but little kids in little suits and ties. A little blond child of the corn kid in a sweater and tie that has nothing to do with anything—that’s what makes this card so great.

Convincing, convincing. The Chiefs are next. The two guys who flank either side of row two, they’re either trainers or equipment managers or neither or both. But whatever they are, they are not smiling, because they know what’s up: players come and go, the owners make money and live in the big houses on James Street and in Cazenovia, but as long as the sun goes up in the morning, there will be jocks to wash and flies to shag. And neither of them can think of a lousier place to do it than Syracuse, New York.
Intangibles: 1987 Chiefs: 3 points | 1966 Braves: 2.5 points

That little kid really is out of left field, but you can’t deny the depressing locale and general pluckiness of the 1987 Syracuse Chiefs.

Total Score: 1987 Chiefs: 15 points
1966 Braves: 14.5 points

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